Football: “a France-Algeria match would be the business card of a revival”

The Weekly Cross : On October 6, 2001, the first France-Algeria football match in history was interrupted in general confusion after the invasion of the field by Algerian supporters. Since then, the two teams have never met again. How to explain it?

Stanislas Frenkiel: Two years ago, the president of the French Football Federation (FFF), Noël Le Graët, who is very attached to this rapprochement through football, wanted there to be a new match. This is no longer on the agenda at all: the Covid destabilized the two teams, then the Algerian Federation changed president. Discussions should therefore be resumed, especially since political relations between the two countries have cooled for some time.

→ ARCHIVE. France-Algeria at the Stade de France

In 2019, after Algeria’s victory at the African Cup of Nations (CAN) and a year after the Blues’ world title, the moment was ideal…

FS: Yes, we would have witnessed a magnificent match between players who know and appreciate each other. Some dual nationals playing for Algeria would no doubt have liked to be selected in France, but choosing the Fennecs team today no longer has the same meaning. When Nordine Kourichi was the first player born in France to play for the national team in 1980, a feeling of guilt and betrayal still dominated.

→ EXPLANATION. For Algeria, a CAN final with a taste of revolution

The situation has changed a lot: at the 2014 World Cup, sixteen of the twenty-three Algerian players were born in France, it’s incredible! Even if they proudly display their identity in the event of victory, they are young people from the French suburbs who have always evolved in a globalized professional world.

Seen through the lens of football in the broadest sense, what is the relationship between the two peoples today?

FS: There are “gateway” players. Nabil Fekir, world champion with France in 2018, allows easier double identification. Just as the sales of Blues jerseys have never been so important since the return of Karim Benzema. On the Algerian side, coach Djamel Belmadi, a “Beur” born in 1976 in Champigny-sur-Marne, unites through his successes. Their simple family name allows for multiple identification. Through them, we can be from Val-de-Marne, from the Lyon suburbs, from France, from Algeria… I was in Algeria during the 2006 World Cup, the inhabitants supported Zidane’s France, the France of our cousins , friends, where we would like to travel.

In France, gatherings of Algerian supporters often arouse the concern of the authorities and the hostility of part of the population. How to put an end to this discomfort?

FS: Despite all the goodwill in the world, a malaise will always remain. On the French side as on the Algerian side, some, maintained by “lobbyists”, will always pass themselves off as victims of a lack of recognition, of a memory that is fading, and will cause uproar in the street. The issues are identity, economic and political. A discourse of “nostalgery” is fueled by people who do not want to turn the page, sixty years later.

Under what conditions could a new France-Algeria match be held in harmony?

FS: The meeting should already take place in Algeria. No one will take the risk of having new overflows in France. Algeria was very surprised and very angry at what happened in 2001, its image had once again been tarnished. I was there at the time and I heard: “It has nothing to do with us, it’s the immigrants. It is a Franco-French problem. » If the Algerians organize this match, they will be keen to show their competence and their hospitality, which is an undeniable Algerian quality.

There should also be a political dialogue, a common desire to share, to experience a great moment of sport and fraternity. But is there a political interest in such an event in a country where the extreme right is more than 25% of voting intentions? Dark forces also prevent this brotherhood on the other side of the Mediterranean. Since 1962, power has legitimized itself permanently on anti-colonialism. But the young Algerians of today did not experience this period and neither did their parents.

How big a step would this match be in normalizing relations between the two countries?

FS: The advantage of sport is that it is not only a revealer or a mirror. He is a transformer of society, he can be transgressive. Such a match would be extremely followed in the media, it would be the calling card of a revival. This revival exists in civilian life, the Algerian people know that the French fought for their independence, they have friends in France. Relations are not frontal, they are ambivalent. It would be a fraternity match, as Sports Minister Marie-George Buffet wanted in 2001. A game of acceptance of dual membership for Franco-Algerians, on both sides of the Mediterranean.


The expert

Stanislas Frenkiel is a historian and lecturer at the University of Artois. He published in 2021 Immigrant Football. France-Algeria, shared history (Artois Presses Universités, 316 p., €24), which traces the history of Algerian immigration through football. He also runs the YouTube channel “Sport Time”.

The context

On October 6, 2001, the first France-Algeria football match in history was organized, supposed to celebrate reconciliation and friendship between the two countries. The interruption of the meeting following the invasion of the field by Algerian supporters created an identity malaise that persists today. But thanks to the dual nationals playing on both sides, the teams of France and Algeria have never seemed so close and the question of a new match arises.



Can the Olympics and politics go hand in hand?

Beijing hosts the Winter Olympics, but sport, for the time being, there is little question. Media attention has been focused primarily on international relations, especially since the announcement on December 6 of the diplomatic boycott of the competition by the United States. No representative of the US government will be present during the Olympic fortnight in Beijing, to protest against “Flagrant violations of human rights” concerning the Uyghur Muslim minority in Xinjiang.

→ READ. Beijing Olympics: no diplomatic boycott of France

A few nations very quickly aligned themselves with Washington: Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand. Others procrastinated before defining their position. China responded with the threat of sanctions, after pointing out that “Mixing politics and sport went against the Olympic spirit”.

Can the Games and politics go hand in hand? The question is as old as the renovation of the Games in the twilight of the 19th century.e century. Pierre de Coubertin himself asserts from the outset that his project must be “From any political interference”. He is not naive, the refounding baron. But he knows that the claimed apolitism is the surest way to avoid criticism and ensure the independence of the nascent sports movement.

A long political history

Except that very quickly, another music is essential. “In the first three editions of the Games, in Athens in 1896, in Paris in 1900 and in Saint-Louis in 1904, the athletes compete in a private capacity or for their clubs, indicates historian Patrick Clastres, specialist in Olympic history. The drama – but also the success – of the Games is that from 1908 in London, they belong to national selections, and that changes everything. “

→ DEBATE. Should we boycott the Beijing Olympics?

State interests get involved, we know the rest: the vanquished excluded from the Games after the First World War in Antwerp in 1920, Nazi propaganda at the Berlin Games in 1936, the pride of Italy in 1960 or of Japan in 1964 which relaunched in the concert of nations with their Games in Rome and Tokyo, the successive boycotts of the Montreal Games in 1976 (the African nations against South Africa), of Moscow in 1980 and of Los Angeles in 1984, other areas of the Cold War, the attacks in Munich in 1972 (Palestinians) and Atlanta in 1996 (supremacists).

We could continue the enumeration, until the last episode of the series, this diplomatic boycott, therefore, against Beijing. “This type of boycott is not new, it was already under discussion when the 2008 Summer Games were awarded to China or the 2014 Winter Games to Russia,” recalls Carole Gomez, specialized in the geopolitics of sport at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations (Iris). This time, its scope will depend on the number of countries which adopt it and on the diversity of these countries, in particular on the participation or not of Asian or African nations. The International Olympic Committee in any case welcomes it, too happy to have avoided the sports boycott. “

A facade of apoliticalism

In fact, the IOC hastened to put forward, as usual, its “Political neutrality”, even considering that the diplomatic boycott, while respecting the participation of athletes in the Beijing Games, showed a contrario and “Clearly” than the olympic games “Transcend political considerations”. Lady! The reasoning is very convenient.

“The IOC can hide behind this apoliticalism, these decisions are anyway interpreted politically, continues Patrick Clastres. So of course, we must remember that the IOC had little choice for these Winter Games, four European candidates having finally withdrawn their files, leaving only China and Kazakhstan in the race. The IOC was therefore somewhat trapped. However, he is making a serious mistake by not taking a position on human rights. It gives credence to the idea that these are not universal, as China in fact repeats. “

Even if the IOC clings to it in desperation, the apoliticalism of the Games does not resist contradiction. Better to keep your back round than to expose yourself to extreme complications or even more marked instrumentalisation. “The sport and political debate will last until the end of 2022 with the next World Cup in Qatar, predicts Carole Gomez. For the International Football Federation as for the IOC, this is a difficult course to pass. But the IOC can console itself by hoping for a future calmer streak on this front, with the series Paris (2024), Milan (2026), Los Angeles (2028) and Brisbane (2032). “ On this “democratic boulevard”, we will no doubt speak more of the medals than of their reverse.



François Gabart: the day when “I was let go by my sponsor”

When the phone rings on May 12, 2020, like everyone else, the navigator François Gabart was enjoying his second day of freedom after the lifting of confinement. The serenity was short-lived: at the other end of the line, one of the great bosses of the Macif mutual, his long-standing partner, told him that the contract on which they had been discussing for months around the construction of a new racing catamaran will never be signed.

→ READ.François Gabart breaks single-handed sailing records

“When I hung up, I had the feeling that my world was falling apart”, he says on the eve of crossing, Sunday, November 7, the starting line of the Transat Jacques-Vabre, a duo race between Le Havre and Martinique. As always in hard times, he chooses to go… for a run, before announcing the bad news to his wife and to the director of his company, Mer Concept. Founded in 2006, this company then employed about fifty people, more than half occupied around the new boat whose construction had started.

“I hadn’t seen it coming. During these years of collaboration with Macif, there had been discussions, new people to convince, but we had made progress on the new contract, there were still some trifles to settle, he remembers. The next few days were the hardest of my life, more violent than any storm in my athletic career. “ It is less the multi-medal navigator than the entrepreneur who is down to earth. “We were a handful in secrecy, which we kept for nearly a month before speaking to staff and the media. We had to take the time to think about possible scenarios for the future ”, he recalls.

“The chance of losing is much greater than that of winning”

Should we abandon the ship and concentrate on something other than the multihull? Bet on the hiring of a new sponsor quickly? It was not easy to stay the course at a time when economic visibility was almost zero. “I had only experienced growth, a situation where an error of maneuver can slow you down, not stop you. But in times of crisis, any bad decision can lead to the downfall, I had no room for mistakes. “

→ READ. Sailing, François Gabart the new Tabarly

The public announcement on June 10, by Captain Gabart, of Macif’s withdrawal – “A terrible moment” – had the effect of a bomb in the small middle of the sail. Until then, the little prince of the sea, winner of the prestigious Vendée Globe (solo round the world) in 2013 had chained victories and praise. “I started competing at a very young age and losing a regatta that you count on at 12 or 13 is tough too, he tempers, it builds character. Sport has helped me a lot in this event because all sportsmen know that the chance of losing is much greater than that of winning. “

Was he going to win the economic race? The suspense lasted more than eleven months: 350 days of contacts, meetings and disappointed hopes. “This period will remain one of the hardest but also the richest of my life. A door had been closed to me but the situation forced me to open others, I had to make new plans, open up. The comfort of working with a sponsor on a long contract can be a trap, we know what we are going to do years in advance, what race we are going to run, it is a wonderful luxury, I do not deny it, but it blocks a bit. “

Now sponsored by a cosmetics group

After having had to lay off 10% of his staff, the boss of Mer Concept is staying the course, convinced deep down that things will work out one way or another. It happened on April 21, after a meeting with the boss of the Kresk company, Didier Tabary.

“I had had other touches but each time, it was necessary to reconcile the agendas of multiple partners, to convince the boards of directors. There, there was a boss able to decide where he wanted to run his business, who has nothing more to prove himself in the business world – his cosmetics company is doing well – and who now wants to put his know-how to the fore. service of the common good “, says François Gabart, who now races under the SVR-Lazartigue colors (two brands of the Kresk group).

And to specify: “The common good is precisely what I have always wanted to do through Mer Concept, a company whose vocation is to use competition to serve the cause of maritime and ocean development. “


Skipper and company manager

Engineer graduated from Insa (National Institute of Applied Sciences) in Lyon, François Gabart, 38, chose to set up his own company, Mer Concept, in 2006, to host his offshore racing project. Which was financed by the insurer Macif and, today, by SVR-Lazartigue. Mer Concept works around racing multihulls and advises other skippers, including Charlie Dalin, second in the last Vendée Globe and who is starting this Transat, as well as for two other boats also involved in this race. It is also developing a prototype of a small catamaran with an electric motor.


→ PODCAST. “During the Vendée Globe, I took the time to contemplate the oceans”



Football: Lionel Messi, are we doing too much?

Lionel Messi madness, everywhere. At the Parc des Princes in Paris for the presentation, on August 11, of the new PSG recruit to the supporters of the club in the capital. In Reims, a few days later, for his entry into play – only about twenty minutes – in Ligue 1. In Bruges, on September 15, for his first tenure with his teammates just as stars – Neymar and Kylian Mbappé – in the Ligue des champions. And each time, numb football fans, rave reviews, “Messi (on all tones) thank you “

For PSG, the blow seems to be perfect, the result of a combination of exceptional circumstances, including an incredible break in the links between the Argentinean and his club at heart, FC Barcelona. Recruiting Messi without transfer fees, even if his salary exceeds 40 million euros annually, was an unthinkable windfall a few months earlier.

→ ANALYSIS. Lionel Messi, a star at all costs for Paris

And it didn’t take long for PSG to start seeing the benefits. The player’s number 30 flocked jerseys are selling like hot cakes, at least three times more than Neymar’s when the Brazilian arrived in 2017. PSG is banking on an increase in sales of 30 to 40% this year. On social networks, the number of “followers” of the club jumped 25 million in one month (it exceeds 140 million now). The PSG brand has become the most followed in the world, even more than the big French luxury brands. In future negotiations, all club partnerships will be revised upwards.

A “tremendous success” for Qatar

“For Qatar, his arrival is also a tremendous success a year and a half before the World Cup organized by the emirate: it is one more jewel in the crown, at the end of an impressive transfer window with others arrivals which ultimately make up undoubtedly the best team in history, and complete the country’s sports diplomacy ”, underlines Jean-Baptiste Guégan, teacher and specialist in the geopolitics of sport.

The problem of the murderous sites of the World Cup, with appalling working conditions for immigrant labor? The very choice of Qatar to organize this World Cup, forcing an upheaval in the calendar in order to postpone the matches in winter (from November 21 to December 18, 2022)? “With Messi, the international image of Qatar is for a time restored and it is an important success for a State which wants to weigh in the Middle East, in particular compared to the United Arab Emirates or to Saudi Arabia which also practice a soft power athletic “, continues Jean-Baptiste Guégan.

Let’s talk about football rather than angry subjects, then. With Messi as the perfect ambassador or at the head of the ideal gondola. Messi the savior, in a way, it is also true for the championship of France. Ligue 1 was sorry after the crisis in television rights and the sad Mediapro episode, crying over its fate of competition at a discount. Messi arrives and “It is extremely positive for all of French football, as well as for its promotion”, enthuses in The Parisian Michel Denisot, former president of PSG from 1991 to 1998. With a wave of the magic wand, there is no question of reviewing the organization of French football a few weeks earlier on the verge of bankruptcy. And too bad if PSG is the tree that hides the rather deforested forest of Ligue 1.

Should we play the killjoy?

Too bad also if the “All Stars” team of PSG is the symbol of ultra-elitist football, where a few big clubs are increasingly widening the gap that separates them from the others. The global trend annoys supporters, who very often grumble against the extremely wealthy teams that distort the popular football of yesteryear. But all applaud Messi in Paris.

“The supporters are often a bit contradictory, recognizes Hervé Mougin, chief supporter of the Blues within the association of the French Irresistibles. They know on the one hand that the perpetual rise in the wage bill in the clubs is a race for the shallot, and that the excessive financialization of football is driving sport into the wall. But how can you not be excited to see the best players evolve together? “

→ READ. The supporters find the stands and impose themselves as guardians of the temple

Indeed. Should we play the killjoy? Perhaps by wondering about such a concentration of talent, which could well end up wringing definitively the neck of the “glorious uncertainty of sport”. PSG, already, prances at the top of Ligue 1. And the bookmakers do not give much of their opponents in the Champions League. That Messi and his “dream team” confirm by reigning over Europe and it will be said that it was written. The very denial of the interest of sport?



Isabelle Sambou, the day when “I trained men in wrestling”

Hair slicked back, T-shirt in the colors of Senegal, Isabelle Sambou walks her figure while muscles in the dark corridors of the Léopold-Sédar-Senghor stadium. We are in 2019. At the end of the afternoon, she is preparing both for a great first and for a return to her roots: training the mixed national wrestling team, her discipline, the one that earned her nine times the title of African champion. Retired since 2016, the former queen of the arenas, 40, now dons the coach’s jersey.

Isabelle Sambou is almost at home between the dusty walls of the stadium’s wrestling hall, this enclosure resembling a flying saucer reserved for major sporting events in Senegal. When she pushes the door that day, it is for an unprecedented challenge. In front of her, twelve wrestlers. A few girls, but mostly boys. They are in their twenties and all know her for having warmed up alongside her when she was competing and, in particular, for her title of best African wrestler of the decade, awarded in 2015.

When Isabelle Sambou announces to them that now it is she who will train them, the former champion immediately perceives the puzzled concern of the boys. They thought I was not able ”, she explains today. Her nine coronations on the African continent and her two participations in the Olympic Games – in 2012 and in 2016 – are not enough to dispel the sexist stereotypes that persist about female wrestlers in Senegal.

Faced with prejudices

Whatever, it takes more to stop it. She starts training. For two hours, his flock must chain sprints, rolls, holds and movements to soften their necks on the large circular carpet where the wrestlers face each other, trying to defeat the other on the ground to obtain the victory. The coach observes and tests her students. She fears not to be listened to but overlooks their reservations. For this time … The next day, she launches a discussion to dispel fears. “Everyone must take their place and show mutual respect. And as a coach, I deserve this respect even more! “, she clarifies, her tone firm. His natural authority and tenacity eventually prevail.

Isabelle Sambou relies on the code of conduct that the struggle has enabled her to forge. During her seventeen-year career, her status as a woman forced her to fight twice as hard to achieve her dreams: People tell you that you are going to look like a man, or that you will not find a husband. You always have to prove more “, she laments. Out of these obstacles she made a motor, choosing to “Hang on to encouragement”. “It’s up to you to see if you decide to care about what people say or if you don’t care and focus on your goals”, she declaims like a mantra to the young girls she has been training for three years now.

A benchmark for young girls

For many of them, it is a symbol, a proof of success. United World Wrestling (UWW, the equivalent of an international federation) was not mistaken. In 2015, she made Isabelle Sambou one of the ambassadors of the Super 8, a global campaign to promote women’s wrestling. “If I can serve as a reference and encourage them, that’s a good thing”, she congratulates herself.

She too, it is partly thanks to a woman that she started wrestling, in 1999: Eveline Diatta, one of the first Senegalese wrestlers to participate in continental competitions (women were only allowed to participate in the championships). Africa only from 1997). Originally from the village of Mlomp, in the south of Senegal, Isabelle practiced “ekolomodj” there, the traditional female wrestling of the Diola ethnic group. Unlike the rest of the country, where it is often refused to girls by tradition, religion or mysticism, wrestling is an integral part of the culture of its ethnic group. “Thanks to my cousins ​​and Eveline, I understood that I could become a professional wrestler”, she recalls.

Without salary, pension or pension

The lack of recognition of women will not be the only obstacle in its path. It must also be reckoned with the absence of more general support from the Senegalese authorities towards the athletes. “I sacrificed everything to honor my country without anything in return”, she regrets, bitter. Without pension or retirement, for six months she has been cleaning up in a Dakar school to earn a living. To the cost of his morning trips of several hours is added that of trips to the stadium. They are his responsibility because not long ago, the Senegalese wrestling federation abolished the salaries of coaches. Isabelle Sambou is a volunteer coach … But she does not dwell on the subject. “It hurts too much. “ She is focusing on her action plan to develop wrestling.

→ FILE. Women’s sport

It is the mission that she accepted by becoming, this year, the third vice-president of the National Committee of Management of the fight in Senegal. A major challenge in a country where the traditional version of its discipline far outweighs modern women’s freestyle wrestling. “As an African athlete, we are disadvantaged by the lack of infrastructure and the lack of means”, she breathes before adding : “You have to have the mind, you have to believe in it. “


Wrestling, a Senegalese passion

In front of football, traditional wrestling, called “lemb” in Wolof (the language spoken mainly in Senegal), is the country’s national sport. The fights, widely broadcast on the channels
of television, are very followed and unleash passions. The wrestlers face each other in an arena on a sandy ground after a ritual mixing tradition and mysticism: before each fight the colossi sing and dance to the rhythm of the percussions, then are sprinkled with holy water to ensure their victory.

Very practiced in the regions of Siné-Saloum and Casamance, wrestling has become more professional over the years and attracts more and more young Senegalese. The fees of the best wrestlers amount to several million CFA francs. In recent years, former kings of the arenas have offered a new career by converting to Martial Mixed Arts (MMA), a combat sport where all blows are allowed, and whose practice has been authorized in France since February 2020. .



Paralympic Games: “Let’s show that disabled athletes exist and perform well”

La Croix: How can the Paralympic Games change society’s view of disability?

Gerard Masson : In our country, there remains a specific view of the world of disability which can be explained by our education and our philosophy. The Paralympics can change that. For example, China made an impressive transformation with the Beijing Games in 2008. Before they were held, people with disabilities were hidden, concealed. Their situation has since evolved in the right direction.

→ ANALYSIS. Tokyo Games: Paralympism in full swing

Likewise, on the occasion of the 1992 Games, Barcelona undertook a huge transformation and became ultra-accessible for people with disabilities. This is a direct impact of the Paralympic Games on the daily lives of people with disabilities.

In fact, Paris 2024 emphasizes strong inclusion at all levels. Do you think they can mark a turning point?

GM: The Paris 2024 candidacy highlights very strong ideas. An example: for the first time, a single French team will parade and a single logo will represent the two Games. This symbolic choice marks the desire to make things happen and make things sustainable. The difficulty is to believe that everything is immediately feasible for everyone.

There is no miracle solution, barriers will always remain in place, but the key is to bring down as many as possible without being obsessed with the notion of “accessible to all”. What matters is what we do after the Games. The will of Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, and Tony Estanguet, the president of the Paris 2024 organizing committee, is to leave a lasting legacy on the inclusion of people with disabilities.

Can it progress in the world of work thanks to the Games?

GM: Today, Paralympic athletes can be full-time professionals. The example of Marie-Amélie Le Fur (disabled athlete and eight-time medalist at the Paralympic Games, Editor’s note) is one of the most eloquent: she works at EDF and holds the position of President of the French Paralympic and Sports Committee.

→ PORTRAIT. Paralympic Games: for Marie-Amélie Le Fur, “sport is the best way to cope with your handicap”

However, many recruiters are still reluctant to hire people with disabilities. a ” Yes, but… ” often accompanies an employer’s response and suggests that people with disabilities have difficulty integrating into a team. Thanks to the Games, positive and less stigmatizing images of the athletes are conveyed. They deconstruct certain a priori and encourage hiring.

This development depends on the visibility of the Paralympic Games, particularly in the media. Where are we ?

GM: Initially, France Televisions did not believe in it. Some journalists even talked about the circus games or the track to the stars. A click occurred during the 2012 Games in London, when the English television channel Channel 4 broadcast them in full. Today, the France TV group has taken the plunge, but it has been a long process.

Does this media coverage have an effect on registrations in adapted sport and / or amateur handisport?

GM: The Games are undoubtedly inspiring but we do not notice a significant increase in the number of licensees. In France, there are a total of around 16 million licensed athletes, but very few competitors.

In adapted sport or disabled sport, it is 100,000 licensees but as soon as a person with a disability joins a club, they move on to competition. The infrastructures are suitable for them but many constraints still hamper their integration into clubs, such as transport or timetables. However, if sport is a benefit for the able-bodied, it is a necessity for the disabled.

What is still left to change?

GM: Lots of things but what is interesting is that sport plays a very positive role for integration. We shouldn’t just make it a star business, we have to show that disabled athletes exist and do great things. This is how we will manage to deconstruct the idea that only able-bodied people are destined for performance. I remember a very strong moment when a friend told me, speaking of young people in a rehabilitation center “ From the moment when Joël Jeannot (multi-medal Paralympic athlete) will become their model, instead of Zinédine Zidane, we will have won everything. “


The context :

From Tuesday August 24 to Sunday September 5, the sixteenth edition of the Summer Paralympic Games is held in Tokyo. They are 138 athletes and fifteen guides or assistants to defend the colors
of the France team.

The challenge :

Between stereotypes and a priori, people with disabilities too often judge their integration into society as lackluster. But sport is a powerful vehicle for inclusion, and the Paralympic Games can be a trigger.

The expert:

Gérard Masson has held many positions of responsibility within the French Paralympic world. Most recently, he was chairman of the Federal Selection Commission for the Tokyo Paralympic Games and chaired the French Paralympic and Sports Committee for more than four years (2009-2013). He was also chef de mission of the French delegation to the Atlanta Paralympic Summer Games in 1996.



Football: does video refereeing respect the spirit of the game?

In 2017, football France discovered VAR, for Video Assistant Referee, video assistant referee in French. Already used by the cousin of rugby, this device is supposed to help referees make fewer errors, and thus less influence the final result of a match.

Concretely, UEFA, the Union of European Football Associations, explains that “The stadium’s VAR team intervenes in the event of an obvious error in the following four very specific situations that could change the course of the match: a goal, an incident in the penalty area, a red card or an error in the identity of the players. players “. Since its appearance, however, the VAR has struggled to gain unanimity, praised on the one hand for sporting fairness but accused on the other of going against “the spirit of the game”.

Technology everywhere

Football, and therefore its refereeing, has never been frozen. Realize: at the origin, in the XIXe century, there were even two field referees, each of the two teams providing an official! In a constantly evolving sport, and in the digital and all-technological age, the implementation of VAR is not an anomaly in itself. “Technology is everywhere in football, nods Paul Dietschy, sports historian at the University of Franche-Comté. It is in the impeccable semi-synthetic turf, in the equipment of the players, supposed to improve their performances, until the electronic stopwatch, much more practical for the referees. “

→ READ. Euro 2021: what you need to know about the regulations of the European Football Championship

With the precision that is its own, video assistance leaves no room for interpretation or doubt to decide whether the ball has crossed the goal line or if a player is out of play, and allows for more equity. between the two teams. Proof by example: on March 27, at the last minute of the Portugal-Serbia meeting, in a qualifying match for the 2022 World Cup, Lusitano striker Cristiano Ronaldo saw his goal be refused, while the ball was fine. and well into the opposing goal.

Impossible to verify, however: for logistical reasons, the VAR and the goal line technology, which is used precisely in this case, are not used during the European qualifiers for the World Cup. Bad luck for the Portuguese, who had to content themselves with a draw… If the VAR was debated at that time, it was precisely because it was conspicuous by its absence.

“The spirit of the game”

With VAR, no more happy mistakes that have made the history of this sport, ” hand of God “ from Diego Maradona to that of Thierry Henry against Ireland in 2009. A very understandable development, given all the extra-sporting issues around a discipline which brews more and more money every year.

So, what’s wrong with video assistance? “To interrupt a match for five minutes and ultimately refuse a goal because of an offside little finger, plague Romain, Marseille supporter and football lover. The problem is not the video, it’s the use we make of it, it goes against the spirit of the game. “ From there to saying that you have to allow yourself a few largesse and voluntarily forget to whistle, there is only one step …

“This is the old dilemma of letter and spirit, explains Paul Dietschy. Should we apply the rule to the letter, however hard it may be, even for an offside of a few millimeters, or can we allow ourselves a margin of appreciation? “ More broadly, the question of video assistance is above all that of the human and interpretation part that we want to leave in the game.

The role of the arbitrator

The problem with VAR is also that of the referee’s disempowerment. What is it for, one wonders, if his assistant is blowing him into the headset what to whistle, or if he passes and repeats the same images in a loop before making a decision? These lengths in a match, which cut the pace and make players and supporters lose patience, also contribute in a way to removing magic from the sport. “Symbolically, football has often been a metaphor for life: sometimes we win, sometimes we lose and sometimes it’s thanks to a twist of fate, an injustice for some and luck for others”, abounds Paul Dietschy.

The difficulty is also this gray area, where everyone agrees to use the VAR, estimating “That you have to use it but not for hours” as Romain says. Where is the limit ? How long does it take for the referees to render their decision? These questions have no rational solution… and remain subject to the appreciation of the arbitrator who is, above all, a human being.

For this Euro delayed by one year due to the Covid, the VAR is present to support the referees. Let’s take advantage: “Perhaps in twenty years, artificial intelligence will have entirely replaced the man in black”, laughs Paul Dietschy. And then maybe we’ll look back with nostalgia back to when the whistle was still in the mouth of a flesh-and-blood referee.



Mountaineering: the day when “I climbed my first 8000”

It’s a story of 8,000 meters that begins with a 4,000. Moreover, during our meeting, Sophie Lavaud weighs the two dates. 2004 and his first 4000? Or 2012 and its first 8,000? Her life really changed in 2004, when this financial event pro climbed on a whim to the top of… Mont Blanc.

“It was then that my future path to great heights took shape. Until then, I had been hiking, much like everyone else when you live in Geneva, after having studied in Lyon. Up there, at the age of 36, I felt a kind of click, love at first sight for the mountain which led to everything else. “ After the 4,800 meters of the roof of Europe swallowed without difficulty, here is the time of 5,000, 6,000, 7,000, but always within the framework of organized holidays. A sort of risky and expensive hobby, nothing more.

→ REPORT. In the heart of the Himalayas, artificial glaciers against drought

Until the financial crisis of 2008, which put the company that she had set up with her brother on the flank. A blow that leaves her stunned and allows her to wake up… different. “ I had time, no obligations, so I wanted to give myself the gift of going to see higher. “

A lady all-the-world of the heights

Towards these famous fourteen summits of more than 8,000 meters which dominate the world and haunt the dreams of professional mountaineers, a species in which the fallow top executive finds himself a little, but in the place that she gives herself, that of a madam everyone of the heights. “I fully assume my status as a mountain follower, I am not a guide, nor technically very strong, I surround myself with trustworthy people, I climb, I think. We don’t say it enough, but it’s by following that we get to the top. “

→ DEBATE. Olivier Thévenet: “The mountain is a territory that can be shared”

So here she is in May 2012, a few days before her 44th birthday and… Hagia Sophia, at the foot of Shishapangma, the smallest of the 8,000 and one of the easiest too, even if the matter remains relative. “To those who speak of Himalayan tourism with contempt, because of the multiplication of expeditions, I propose to get down to it, they will see that even within a powerful expedition, with oxygen, it remains very difficult. “

The path begins in Kathmandu, with the procedures to obtain the necessary permit for the ascents, in the base camp where nationalities and ambitions come together, faced with a reality of patience and modesty. “I have seen seasoned mountaineers consume themselves with anguish at the idea of ​​not succeeding, I have always put forward the notion of pleasure, of adventure, privileging the present moment to stay within the perimeter. accessible. “

Passionate about the Himalayas

The first days at the foot of Shishapangma were not, moreover, very glorious, occupied in fighting against a little heroic diarrhea of ​​the mountains. The winter was dry, the crevasses are dangerous, the days of waiting for endless weather clearing. And then comes the “Go” long awaited, towards camps 1, 2 and 3, then the summit.

“I don’t know if it’s the happiest day of my life, in any case, this May 11, 2012 is a culmination”she said, searching for the exact word to describe how she felt at the time. Ecstasy? Euphoria? “Uh … it’s a bit like that”, she says. Before sending an email the day after our interview, just before flying to Nepal, to correct: “I would say wonder. “

Which does not stop there, since she decides to link up a few days later with another 8,000 neighbor, a little higher up, the Cho Oyu. This time, the virus is caught, the Himalayas will not let go. As the guide and filmmaker François Damilano, who has dedicated two films to him (1): “There are three categories of Himalayas; those who return home happy to have made an 8000, those who want to push to Everest and those who want to do them all. Sophie now belongs to the third category. “

New heights in the sights

“We often talk about the ego of mountaineers. It takes some, that’s for sure, but it’s not my main engine, she says. I’m not a collector, I don’t care about stacking tops, I just want to empower myself to make my own dreams come true. ” Now that she is a licensed Himalayan, making a living from conferences in companies when she returns to the cow land, her latest dream is to become the first among the French (one of her three nationalities, with Switzerland and Canada) to pose the challenge. foot on the 14 peaks over 8,000.

→ PODCAST. Nadir Dendoune: “After having climbed Everest, I have never felt so free”

He’s missing three. In reality four: his May 2012 ascent on the Shishapangma was not approved, because it was not carried out on the summit ridge but a few meters below. She will therefore have to go back there one day. A perspective that does not destabilize her more than that, on the contrary. “If I didn’t find pleasure in all this, I would have stopped a long time ago, it’s too hard to force yourself if the desire is no longer there. “


Three more summits to become unique

Starting off as a solid hiker, nothing more, Sophie Lavaud is on the way to becoming the first French Himalayan, men and women alike, to have climbed the 14 peaks over 8,000 m. Nicknamed the 88,000 Lady (eleven times 8,000), she is currently approaching the twelfth, the Dhaulagiri, and will try during the season, weather permitting, the Lhotse and the Nanga Parbat. Thus ending the loop started in 2012 by climbing the Shishapangma, where she had earned a nice nickname in the Sherpa language: Didi Sophie (big sister Sophie).



Football: should we boycott the 2022 World Cup in Qatar?

The figure is terrible, revealed by a survey of Guardian February 23: 6,500 migrants have died in Qatar since 2010, most from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. A figure probably underestimated according to the British daily, because it lacks statistics from countries like the Philippines or Kenya, which have also sent large numbers of workers to Qatar.

→ READ. In Qatar, the hidden face of the 2022 World Cup

For ten years, more than 2 million foreigners have in fact come to swell the workforce necessary for the construction of stadiums and infrastructures for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. They are working in very precarious conditions, in oppressive heat, often without even the certainty of being paid. The recent investigation by Guardian is not the first of its kind. The newspaper has regularly alerted on this subject since 2013 and the death of 44 Nepalese workers on the construction sites of the World Cup.

The Fifa and the FFF indifferent

At the time, the International Football Federation (Fifa) said “Concerned”. Today, less than two years from the event, which will be held from November 21 to December 18, 2022, the tone has changed. “The frequency of accidents at Fifa World Cup construction sites has been low compared to other major construction projects around the world,” cleared the proceedings.

→ ANALYSIS. Despite criticism, Qatar intends to continue its sporting road

The Qatari government, for its part, sees no anomaly in the death rate of its immigrant population and claims that only 20% of these expatriates are employed in the construction sector. It prevents. The debate on a possible boycott of the World Cup in Qatar has returned to the fore.

” Is right, considers Régis Juanico, Génération.s deputy for the Loire, who had already signed a forum in 2019 calling on the French team to boycott. We can no longer tolerate the attribution of major international competitions to these countries still lagging behind in respect of human rights. What governments, in the name of realpolitik and good economic relations, do not dare to do, we can ask sportsmen, who are very popular on social networks and who can shake things up. “

It is true that in recent months, some stars of the France team have not failed – and this is quite new – to position themselves on societal issues, such as Kylian Mbappé on racism or Antoine Griezmann in support of the Uyghurs persecuted in China.

Will they dare to express themselves on the World Cup, the flagship competition in which every footballer dreams of participating? On March 8, in an interview with AFP, the president of the French Football Federation (FFF) Noël Le Graët replied for them: “Qatar has long been designated by officials, we are not going to question the organization within a year. France will be present in Qatar if it qualifies. “

A State sensitive to its international image

To boycott, Amnesty International, which has been working on the subject since 2014, prefers “The pressure on different actors to change things, explains Sabine Gagnier, in charge of corporate and human rights advocacy within the NGO. Qatar is nonetheless very sensitive to its international image, and our numerous campaigns, among others, have enabled labor law to evolve in the country ”.

In two stages, in 2016 and then in August 2020, reforms made it possible to reduce the kafala, this system which prohibits migrant workers from changing jobs without the authorization of their employers. A new law also establishes a minimum wage of € 230 per month.

“These are real advances, but still too slow, admits Sabine Gagnier. And we must remain vigilant. Last February, an opinion from the Shura Council, the parliament of Qatar, recommended limiting the possibility of changing jobs to three times during the stay of workers. It would be a real step backwards. The pressure must not be released. “

In Qatar, the abolition of “kafala” does not sign the end of arbitrariness for foreign workers

Boycotting in order to really make an impression or take advantage of the sporting event to impose gradual changes is a recurring debate, widely present, for example, before the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

For Raphaël Le Magoariec, researcher at the University of Tours and specialist in sports policies in the Gulf countries, the effectiveness of the pressure exerted on the occasion of international events exists. “Especially vis-à-vis countries like Qatar, all the same more fragile than behemoths like China. Without the angle of attack offered by the World Cup, the situation would certainly not have changed, and it must be seen that the progress recorded is initiating a dynamic which can also encourage neighboring countries to embark on similar reforms. In this way, movements internal to these societies can occur, which one can judge to be minimal or too slow, but which are nonetheless real ”.



Should we maintain the Tokyo Olympics?

At the time of Covid, it is difficult for the moment to imagine oneself in a stadium filled with spectators from all over the world. And yet, the Olympic and Paralympic Games are scheduled this summer, from July 23 to August 8, then from August 24 to September 5. So is it reasonable to consider holding them in the current context? On December 15, the governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, indicated that she did not see “No scenario” which could lead to the cancellation of the Games.

→ READ. Spectators at the Tokyo Olympics? The IOC President believes in it

However, since the end of the year, the situation has worsened. On January 7, the Japanese Prime Minister declared a state of emergency in the Tokyo area; and on January 12, Japan said it had discovered a new strain of the virus on its soil. The Olympic and Paralympic Games therefore appear to be a logistical and health challenge, with more than 11,000 athletes from 206 countries expected.

Budget increased by 2.3 billion euros

Nearly 80% of the Japanese are now against their retention. The organization turns into a nightmare for the land of the rising sun, which relied heavily on the sporting event to improve its international image. “Japan wanted to move forward following the tsunami. It was a call for air to be able to welcome the entire planet to a new Japan ”, explains Éric Monnin, sports sociologist and director of the Center for University Olympic Studies and Research.

The Olympic Games are a showcase for the host country which can highlight its social, environmental or technological progress. And for this, the organizers are making considerable investments. On average, 50% of the funding comes from local and national taxes. The postponement of the 2020 edition by one year has already increased the budget by 2.3 billion euros. The total cost of the 2020 Olympics is now estimated at 13 billion euros, the highest budget in the history of the Summer Games. “The Games always come at a higher cost than what is expected. It is very rare that the income earned compensates for the costs incurred, analysis Wladimir Andreff, President of the Scientific Council of the Observatory for Sports Economics (OES) at the Ministry of Sports. With or without the Games, there will be costs for Tokyo. But the costs are incurred, while the income is long overdue. ”

“An economic disaster” in the event of cancellation

A cancellation would have major financial consequences, with the reimbursement of tickets sold, the removal of television rights or the refund of fees paid by sponsors. This is why, for the moment, neither the International Olympic Committee (IOC) nor Japan are considering this hypothesis. “The IOC’s budget is mainly made up of the revenue it derives from the organization of the Olympic Games. If there are no Games, it is an economic disaster for the IOC, their economic existence depends on it, explains Wladimir Andreff. I bet on the fact that the Games will be maintained, even in bad conditions, to ensure a minimum of income. “

Besides the economic aspect, what to say or what to do in case of cancellation for the athletes who have been training for four years to participate in this competition, which often represents the goal of a sportsman’s life? 57% have already obtained their entry ticket for the competition.

The IOC and the Organizing Committee are considering any possibility that would allow the Games to be maintained while guaranteeing health security. Among the measures envisaged, the limitation of travel during the fifteen days of the competition for the athletes and their supervisors, massive tests on entry into the country and then throughout the competition, or the priority vaccination of athletes before the start of the competition. ‘summer.

Another hypothesis: the ban on … shouting for spectators, with the risk of losing the festive atmosphere. “The Olympics are a celebration of humanity, a global celebration where everyone meets. It’s a great chance that they can organize themselves today, perhaps in an unsatisfactory form, but at least they are organizing. It will be like in 1948, after the Second World War, not something very festive, but the Games of a new world, post-Covid ”, considers Éric Monnin.

Final answer in April

Success in organizing the Olympics in the midst of a pandemic would have a very strong symbolism. They would bring some entertainment in these gloomy times. “We could rediscover familiar emotions, vibrate other than through the prism of fear and uncertainty”, details Carole Gomez, research director at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations (Iris), specialist in questions of geopolitics of sport. The IOC has indicated that it will definitively decide whether or not to continue the event in April.

Its cancellation would be a first in peacetime. “It would create a precedent, and other reasons could be put forward later to cancel the Olympics. It is also a fear. We must not forget either that the next edition is coming very quickly: from 2022 with the Winter Games in Beijing. If Tokyo 2021 is canceled, all eyes will be on this edition and the wait will be even higher ”, evaluates Carole Gomez. In any case, the disruptions of the 2020 edition will inevitably have consequences for the organization of the next Games, Paris 2024 in the foreground.